The TALIBAN took over Afghanistan in 1996 after a brutal civil war. As TIME noted, in an issue whose cover featured undecided women voters, the ensuing peace was more terrifying than the war.
A band of onetime seminarians and clerics who formed an army just two years ago, the Taliban now control 75% of a country torn by war... In their first week the Taliban shut girls out of schools and ordered women workers from offices and hospitals. At a press conference, two female foreign correspondents were forbidden to ask questions of the Acting Deputy Foreign Minister Shirmohammad Stanekzai, because, according to an aide, he "must not hear their voices" ...Residents of Kabul were generally too cautious to express concern about the Taliban out loud, but they certainly had reason to wonder: at the first Taliban-attended Friday prayer meeting, soldiers forced passersby into mosques at gunpoint. At the Malali High School, Siad Bibi knew that her life had turned a terrible corner. She was a cleaner until the Taliban decreed that she could not leave her house, which is right next door, without her husband, who is old and ill. "Now I have no work. I can't go outside," she says. She adds that the situation is even worse for Kabul's estimated 25,000 widows, now officially jobless. "There were many widows who worked here," she said. "Now they can't leave their homes. I'm so scared."
--TIME, Oct. 14, 1996